Gathering the Garlic or ‘Ajo’ or ‘The Stinking Rose”

You could probably call me all of the above right now since I just ate a mouthful of garlic scape pesto pasta! It was a little stronger and hotter than I was expecting probably due to the fact that the scapes were more ‘mature’ than they should have been.

I harvested about 2/3 of our garlic yesterday. Noel planted about 100 cloves last October 27th (see his blog). As you can see from the picture they are a good size – that circular spot at the bottom of the picture is a quarter.

Believe it or not I was up at 5:45 AM on a Saturday pulling garlic. I happened to be awake and was getting nervous about the garlic getting over ripe. (I also hoped that the mosquitoes would still be sleeping but I guessed wrong.) Last year (’06/’07) was the first time we had planted a variety of hard necks. I let them get too mature and the bulbs didn’t keep as long. I kept waiting for the tops to fall over. Well guess what? These are hard necks not the soft necks that we’d been planting for years.

The soil was just about the perfect consistency for harvesting. If you need a little extra help getting the garlic out without breaking it you can use a garden fork or the CobraHead. Just make sure you push the blade way down at least an inch behind the bulb and come up under it so you don’t damage it. The soft necks tend to break off easier so you’re more likely to need some extra help.

As you can see in the picture I like to wash and trim it before I let it age. This only works if you harvest it before it gets too papery with the cloves separating. Once it gets that far just let it cure and hope for the best. I lost more than a few last year to mold (and not because I washed it) and lost a few more before the year was up because they dried up.

The one constant thing you can say about gardening is that there are new lessons to be learned each year!

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